Open innovation in the face of the COVID-19 grand challenge: Insights from the pan-European hackathon “EUvsVirus”

Alberto Bertello (Corresponding author), Marcel L.A.M. Bogers, Paolo De Bernardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)
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Being a grand challenge of global scale, the Covid-19 pandemic requires collective and collaborative efforts from a variety of actors to enable the expected scientific advancement and technological progress. To achieve such an open innovation approach, several initiatives have been launched in order to leverage potential distributed knowledge sources that go beyond those available to the single organizations. A particular tool that has gained some momentum during Covid-19 times is hackathons, that have been used to unleash the innovation potential of individuals who voluntarily came together, for a relatively short time, with the aim to solve specific problems. In this paper, we describe and analyze the case of the hackathon EUvsVirus, led by the European Innovation Council: a three-days online hackathon to connect civil society, innovators, partners, and investors across Europe and beyond in order to develop innovative solutions to coronavirus-related challenges. We have individuated four dimensions to explore hackathons as a crowdsourcing tool for practicing effective open innovation in the face of Covid-19: broad scope, participatory architecture, online setting, and community creation. We have then discussed how these four elements can play a strategic role in the face of grand challenges, that require, as in the case of Covid-19 pandemic, both urgent action and long-term thinking. Our case analysis also suggests the need to look beyond the “usual suspects”, through knowledge recombination with unsuspected resources (e.g., retired experts, graduate students, and the general public). We therefore prompt to a broader perspective on open innovation, to be extended beyond openness across organizational boundaries, and to explore the role of open innovation at society level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-192
Number of pages15
JournalR&D Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


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